It isn't just the FTC that's targeting social media celebrities who use their massive reach to illegally hawk products.
On Sunday night, while the entertainment world was focused on the MTV Video Music Awards, Kim Kardashian West was forced to take to social media for reason outside her usual self promotion.
The FDA had forced her to acknowledge the side effects of a 'miracle' morning-sickness drug she has repeatedly endorsed.
The social media posts followed an Aug. 7th warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to drug maker Duchesnay warning that Kardashian’s original paid endorsement did not include important safety information.
The posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter carried the hashtag #CorrectiveAd, per FTC guidelines on the issue.
“I guess you saw the attention my last #morning sickness post received,” Kardashian wrote as the world was distracted by the VMAs.
The original paid endorsement included links to websites with disclosures about the risks of the drug, Diclegis, but did not include them in the posts.
The drug she is promoting was approved in 2013 to treat morning sickness but only for a small number of women who don’t respond to more conservative treatment.
The rest of Kardashian’s post, almost certainly put up by handlers as the celebrity attended the VMAs, read that “Diclegis has not been studied in women with hyperemesis gravidarum,” or extreme, persistent vomiting. The warnings also included mention about interactions with other medications and alcohol, in addition to side effects like drowsiness.
Kardashian first promoted the product with the clearly illegal “OMG. Have you heard about this?” in early July. She has since taken down the posts based on advice from her lawyers.
While the FDA asked that the misleading drug messages be corrected in the format they were originally posted, Kardashian’s timing on that request meant the posts were buried quickly.
Her social media streams were quick to be overtaken by pictures of her at the VMAs.
Kardashian is the most recent and most high profile celebrity to come under fire from various U.S. regulators concerned about misleading promotion on social media. Yet her attitude to the issue shows a clear trend: Social media stars could care less about what they post to their followers, so long as the money's right.
Despite influencing countless women to purchase the risky treatment, her apology was clearly timed to bury the issue and rings hollow.
It will be interesting to see if the FTC decides to investigate, as the promotional methods also fall afoul of their recent guidelines on paid social media promotion.